Why I Should Never Get Up before Dawn.

The other day I was startled awake by a dream. I had won exactly $43.2 million on some lottery or another. l soon realized it was just a dream, and that it was still dark outside. The green digits on the alarm clock told me it was 5:50 a.m. great-horned owl ud26Husband was already up, of course, and I could sense a whiff of espresso coming from the kitchen. But he’s an early bird of some sort, and I’m a night owl. As real as they come.

You see, after four years of getting up at exactly 4:15 a.m. to take my regular 7 a.m. flight to Washington D.C. and often beyond, I was done with early mornings. This night owl returned to her natural sleeping patterns as soon as she became her own boss. And her own scheduler. At least seven hours of sleep from early hours of the day until after sunrise. A recipe for a perfect day.

So there I was, my eyes open. Bumble was sleeping sideways in the middle of the bed, snoring. I wanted to go back to sleep, but after just losing over $43 million in a blink, I couldn’t.

Bumble sleeping 2 UD26

I was fully awake. And the smell of coffee soon lured me into the kitchen. Husband looked up from his laptop like he was seeing a ghost, but only said “you’re early”. Quietly. He knows it’s not advisable to start any kind of intellectual exchange with me at that hour.

coffee machines 2 ud26

I could never imagine operating the espresso machine first thing in the morning, so I turned to my faithful Keurig. It knows what I want. And despite having to wake up at this unusual hour, it managed to make me a mug of decent coffee. I walked to my office to enjoy the life affirming brew. And to read some blog posts. Wisely, I didn’t comment on any of them. But I’m sure some early risers among blogging friends lifted an eye brow seeing a “like” from me at that hour.

Soon my world started to turn red. The first rays were coloring the sky above the bay. It was beautiful. A reward for getting up early, I thought.

sunrise over the bay 2 ud26Looking out, I got a brilliant idea. I would surprise Mama Osprey by appearing at sunrise on the bay side where she usually starts her day. So out I went. And met the young Great Blue Heron right at our pool. He’s not shy, as many of you know. He walked around the pool and calmly posed for the camera. I chuckled and shot away. Even considered forgiving him the attacks on the osprey nest last spring. But the light was so dim that of all the photos I took, only this one was salvageable. Later it was obvious to me that the camera has far more settings than the espresso machine. I should remember that for the future.

young blue heron at the pool ud26

Then I walked across the street onto the bay side without an incident. And spotted a huge flock of young Brown Pelicans, I’m guessing forty to fifty, silhouetted against the sun just peeking over the horizon. There was a chaotic flying, diving and eating frenzy all over the bay. I had never seen anything like that and happily shot away. About 160  frames capturing their non-stop action. Against the sun most of the time. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? You guessed it. Yes it could. And it was. Of all the fast action by these wildly entertaining pelicans, only two lame pictures were almost worthy of posting. Most shots were just showing a blur of pelicans on the top of each other, dark silhouettes, or pink water splashing around. But I didn’t know it at the time, of course. I almost never look at my pictures until at home.

pelican diving ud26 pelican at sunrise 2 ud26

So strengthened by having captured such lively action, I walked towards the sailing center. The sun was now looking over the bay from a somewhat higher position.

sunrise on the bay ud26

I heard osprey speak. Looking around I continued walking. And right then my foot found a large hole in the grassy patch I was crossing. A perfect trap. Everything flew around in the air. But only my knees hit the ground.  My equipment wasn’t broken and my ankle wasn’t badly sprained. Redeeming piece of luck right there. Getting up, I spotted Papa Stanley sitting high up on Marriott’s lower roof behind me. He wasn’t scanning for fish. Instead he had turned to look down on me. Sympathetically.

papa osprey at sunrise ud26

And soon I discovered Mama Sandy too. She was sitting on a wind measurement device at the sailing center. And had also turned around to look at me. I thought they’d both seen my fall and wanted to offer some consolation to this poor night owl with no wings. Or maybe they knew I needed some compassion after looking at my 220 frames from that morning? They didn’t tell.

mama osprey at sunrise ud26

After finding both of them, I decided I’d tried my luck enough for one day, and returned home for a second cup of coffee. Inspecting the results of my worst photo shoot ever, I came to the conclusion that I should never get up before dawn. And try to act normal.

Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, I hope you got up on the right foot.